Community vote to buy island owned by laird who inspired James Bond


A remote Scottish community have voted overwhelmingly to buy the island once owned by a laird said to have been the inspiration for James Bond.

On Thursday night the result of a postal ballot was revealed on Great Bernera in the Western Isles – home to around 250 people and linked to the Isle of Lewis by bridge.

In total 85% of the community turned voted with 142 saying yes to buying the island and just 37 against the move.


Great Bernera in the Western Isles is home to 250 people. Image by Chris Murray


Great Bernera was owned for 50 years by Count Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees, a descendant of King Louis Philippe I of France and godson of the 11th Duke of Argyll.

A good friend of Bond author Ian Fleming, Count Robin is said to have been the inspiration for 007.


Council officals counting the ballots on Thursday night. Image by Barry Shelby


“It was a very big turnout,” said Tom Macdonald, Chairman of the Great Bernera Community Development Trust.

“It was great. There were about 100 people at the count.”

He said the committee will now start the process of applying for funds to make the purchase.

“Hope to have it before the year is out,” said Mr Macdonald.


Great Bernera was owned for 50 years by Count Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees. Image by Chris Murray


“We’re getting a valuation done at the moment. In 2010, the last valuation, it was valued at £70,000, but we don’t have an accurate up to date quote.”

He continued: “We had 16 and 17 year-olds voting. We consider it their legacy. It’s very historical – an amazing result to have.”

Asked if Count Robin would have been pleased with the result he said: “I think so. The family have said in the original letter to us offering first refusal that it would have been his wish.

“I very much hope it is.”


There were more than 100 islanders at the count on Thursday night eagerly awaiting the results. Image by Barry Shelby


Count Robin was known for wooing beautiful women. The Oxford graduate, who spoke several languages, worked on ‘Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ with Fleming.

In the book 007’s cover as Sir Hilary Bray was based on Count Robin’s then position as a heraldic researcher at the College of Arms in London.

Count Robin was linked to several beautiful women including Fiona Campbell-Walker, a top model who married Baron Thyssen, one of the richest men in Europe.

In 1962 he bought and moved to the ruggedly beautiful island of Great Bernera.


The croft house that belonged to Count Robin is still for sale


He lived in a modest croft house on the island – which is still for sale – and was well liked by local islanders.

Count Robin remained in the Western Isles – living out his last days in a Blar Buidhe nursing home in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.

He also owned ruined Inchdrewer Castle in Aberdeenshire which was reported to have been bought in by Russian princess and former Versace model Olga Roh for £400,000 in 2013.